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Game Preview: The Suns head to LA to take on the Clippers

The Suns return to LA to face the Clippers for first time after last years WCF game-6 victory

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NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (21-4) @ Los Angeles Clippers (15-12)

When: Monday, 8:30 PM

Where: STAPLES Center (soon to be Crypto.com Arena)

Watch: NBA TV, Bally Sports

Listen: 98.7 FM


The Suns travel to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers for the first time since defeating them in last years Western Conference Finals. It took 6 games for the Suns to wrap things up against a short-handed Clippers team missing Kawhi Leonard. Same goes for tonight's game, as Kawhi still does not have a set date to return this year from the ACL surgery back in July.

The Clippers Paul George may also be out, setting up another opponent this season that looks easy on paper, but still can be difficult to handle when the game starts.

The Suns also play that game, not having star Devin Booker in the mix and really not having an issue keeping the team chemistry alive and the wins coming. Even without Deandre Ayton Friday night against the Boston Celtics, the next body up, Jalen Smith, filled the hustle role to perfection in helping the Suns win their 21st game of the season.


The Starting Lineups

Phoenix

  1. Chris Paul
  2. Landry Shamet
  3. Mikal Bridges
  4. Jae Crowder
  5. JaVale McGee

Injuries: Devin Booker (out), Abdel Nader (out), Frank Kaminski (out), Dario Saric (out), Deandre Ayton (questionable)

Clippers

  1. Luke Kennard
  2. Reggie Jackson
  3. Terance Mann
  4. Marcus Morris Sr.
  5. Ivica Zubac

Injuries: Kawhi Leonard (out), Jason Preston (out), Paul George (day-to-day), Nicolas Batum (day-to-day)


The Suns Report

The Suns have not been fazed by the latest injuries to hit the team. Like the rest of the league losing players to Covid and other concerns, it doesn’t become a excuse or a concern.

This early in the season, when the league might still be adjusting to getting a rhythm and flow down, the Suns are on the next level of maturing and adapting to emergency throw-ins.

Stix, who I mentioned before, is the latest case of filling the minutes of Deandre Ayton/ Dario Saric/ Frank Kaminski. Starting JaVale McGee in place of Ayton? Not a problem. Both McGee and Stix nailed it Friday Night, taking the pressure off the Suns coaching staff in maybe having to rush the injured players back.

Booker, yet to return, is given extra time to heal every the win the Suns continue to grab in his absence. These are things that we can look back at the end of the year and reflect on how proud we can be of a team that literally took every minute serious.


The Clippers Report

Winning four out of the their last five games, the Clippers look to be back on a better track after going through a little bit of a slump. Starting the year 8-4, the Clippers seemed to be pulling things together for a Paul George MVP run.

Averaging 25-7-5 this year, George continued his hot streak from last year, after showing a lot of promise in the playoffs. He seemed to regain a lot of confidence in his game and nearly ran the Clippers to the Finals with the help of a great defensive team.

Missing the last 2 games with something minor, George still has a chance to get the Clippers to a better place in the standings. They currently sit 5th in the Western Conference at 15-12. George has all the making of a superstar and a solid team around him to do so.

Another year with a top-5 defense in the NBA, evening things out on the offensive end in sharing the ball (19th in the league in assists) and quieting the turnovers (22nd in the league), the win percentage might just go up.


It is hard to predict anything other than a Suns win. So, I predict a Suns win.

Injuries or Covid scratches will always play a role in every matchup, and the Suns depth is unmatched. Role players turn into starters, and deep bench players can turn into role players for the Suns.

Suns 104, Clippers 100.